The Influence of Sor Juana and Catalina de Erauso on Colonial Latin American Society

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Colonial Latin American society in the Seventeenth Century was undergoing a tremendous amount of changes. Society was transforming from a conquering phase into a colonizing phase. New institutions were forming and new people and ideas flooded into the new lands freshly claimed for the Spanish Empire. Two remarkable women, radically different from each other, who lived during this period of change are a lenses through which many of the new institutions and changes can be viewed. Sor Juana and Catalina de Erauso are exceptional women who in no way represent the norm but through their extraordinary tales and by discovering what makes them so extraordinary we can deduce what was the norm and how society functioned during this era of Colonial…show more content…
When she decided to abandon her vows and run away to America there was still the romantic appeal of an unconquered land, the Spanish Wild West. There was not much law and order, and the intuitions that contribute to a healthy and thriving society were not yet in place. Yes there were courts, judges, and the Church but their prestige was much lower than it would grow to become. De Erauso was able to escape the law many times and roam across vast areas land without much in her way, one hundred years later the established institutions that were just in their infancy during her life would have probably put a stop to her journey and life much, much sooner. During this time the name of the game was still conquest, and the newly arrived Spaniards and the Crown were not as enamored with building a civilization as they were with gaining riches and the hidalgo status that went along with it. Many just expected that they would get rich and return to Spain and this attitude was reflected in the lack of institutions in the society at this time along with De Erauso’s memoir. The Spanish Crown soon saw this lack of influence and control as a problem and sought for a more involved role in their colonies and began to exert a more direct influence. They established of the Council of the Indies in 1524 and the two Viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru soon after (Burkholder

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